Neema Namadamu: Architect of Peace in the Congo

Neema


Meet Neema Namadamu. She is founder of the women’s peace organization Maman Shujaa. Through Maman Shujaa and other projects she’s created, (including a media center for women to tell their stories) she has a vision for a “New Congo.” We hear of the stories of assault and rape on women in the Congo. Through the efforts community building and amazing women, like Namadamu, the Obama administration assigned a special envoy to the Congo.  From an excerpt of our interview below, find out the extent of the US’ role in the Congo as well as why Namadamu believes that the US needs to be more “human” in their humanitarian aid.

Thanks to your efforts the Obama administration has appointed a special envoy to the Congo. Why was it important for you to make the US more aware of the war in the Congo?

 

It wasn’t our intent to make the US more aware, but to urge the US President to put actions behind his words. President Obama said in a speech in Accra Ghana in July of 2009:

 

“As for America and the West, our commitment must be measured by more than just the dollars we spend.…the true sign of success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps people scrape by — it’s whether we are partners in building the capacity for transformational change.”

Russ Feingold - US envoy to the Congo

Russ Feingold – US envoy to the Congo

 

The US leadership is well aware of our situation in Congo.  The US funds a third of the cost of UN presence in East Congo – the largest United Nations presence in the world – to the tune of $3.5 billion so far. The US leadership is well aware that the UN has named East Congo the worst place in the world to be a woman or girl.  They are well aware that over 5 million Congolese have died since ’96 – making Congo’s continual conflicting situation the deadliest since World War II.  There have been too many studies to quote identifying that a woman is 134 times more likely to be raped at least once in Congo, than in the US, at a rate of 1152 per day.

 

The U.S. is involved in Congo. Every year it’s a few hundred million dollars here, another hundred million there, and just last night President Obama pledged $7 billion toward electrifying sub-Saharan Africa, perhaps talking about the Grand Inga Dam; the hydro power project for which President Zuma signed a partnering agreement with DR Congo in November of 2011; a project said to be able to provide power to 500 million of Africa’s 900 million people who currently live without electricity.

 

My point is that the U.S. has and continues to invest billions of dollars in DR Congo, but has not $1 in real return.  The Maman Shujaa of Congo are encouraging our powerful friends to invest their influence, their experience, and their wisdom. We’re asking them to put the “human” into their humanitarian aid. We don’t want to need aid. We, the Maman Shujaa of Congo, would love to be able take our future into our own hands; all we need is peace. That is what our Petition is about – Peace; asking our influential friends to help establish a process, an environment (along with the United Nations Special Envoy and the African Union) wherein true Peace can be achieved.

 

We thank Ms. Namadamu for her time. The petition she mentions is here: http://www.change.org/congowomen. Watch this space for more of my interview with Ms. Namadamu.

Photo of Neema Namadamu by Jennifer Esperanza.

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2 Responses to “Neema Namadamu: Architect of Peace in the Congo”

  1. @AbbanBudu says:

    This is really touching. It must be very hard to be a woman in such a territory, but women like Neema are always making the difference and they deserve every support and appreciation out there.

  2. swaye says:

    A soul bent on making a difference in her country-Congo. Wish all those with capacity to join forces to end the situation in Congo come on board and achieve the ultimate-Peace.

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